Kai Kûhne and Melissa Burns
Engaged: June 2005
Projected Wedding Date: Spring 2006
German fashion designer Kai Kühne and model-turned-singer Melissa Burns can’t remember where they met, or even how they met (let’s assume it was a party; let’s assume they were drunk), but they’ve been close friends for many years. When Ms. Burns used to tour with her now-defunct girl band W.I.T. (Whatever It Takes), the chisel-cheeked, green-eyed Mr. Kühne would be at the front of the crowd, his hair slicked back, wearing a five-by-seven-inch photograph of her on a gold chain around his neck.
During Fashion Week last February, when Mr. Kühne was recovering from the highly publicized breakup of As Four, the offbeat collective he helped form, the two of them became even closer. W.I.T. had split in 2004, and “I completely understood what he was going through,” said the baby-faced, platinum-blond Ms. Burns, who declined to give her age. She was sitting on a beat-up loveseat in Mr. Kühne’s Chelsea design-studio-cum-residence, wearing a pink vintage dress that barely covered her remarkable curves. “I know how it is when something’s going really well, and you just have to step away and do something else.” Dangling from a thin chain around her neck was the first button used in Myself, Mr. Kühne’s new line, for which Ms. Burns has acted as a kind of unofficial consultant. “I totally trust Melissa’s instincts,” he said.
As Myself came into being, Mr. Kühne, who is 32, started thinking more and more about acquiring a better half. On the day he opened a business account for the line, he called Ms. Burns from the steps of Citibank to ask for her hand. “Oh, O.K.,” she replied.
“I’m going to get a ring,” he told her.
“Sure,” she said. An hour later, he entered the Lower East Side’s Pink Pony, where Ms. Burns was waiting for him at an empty table, then dropped to his knees and gave her a brilliant-cut solitaire set in gold from a store on Delancey Street. “I was like, ‘Yeah, why not?’” said Ms. Burns, who is in the process of getting a divorce from her first husband. “I didn’t really think he was serious at the time.” She put the bauble in a freezer for safekeeping and says it has since been lost.
“It’s somewhere here,” Mr. Kühne said, looking around the apartment, which was full of sewing machines, plants, mirrors and God knows what else. “My favorite scene in a movie is in Harold and Maude, when he gives her the ring and she throws it into the ocean. That’s kind of the way we are.”
Certainly, theirs seems an unconventional union (“I think it’s typical!” Ms. Burns said): They have no concrete wedding plans as yet, and both have publicly acknowledged Mr. Kühne’s romantic relationships with men, though he didn’t feel like talking about them with the Love Beat. But hey, whatever’s clever. “I feel that marriage is about devotion and creation,” said Ms. Burns, who has commenced recording with a new, as-yet-unnamed band.
“And babies,” said Mr. Kühne gleefully, putting one hand on her breast, the other on her stomach. Ms. Burns threw back her head and laughed. “He’s baby-crazy,” she said. “I never met anyone so baby-crazy.”
“There are so many ways of being in love and sharing something,” Mr. Kühne said.
“With Kai, there’s no limits,” added his bride-to-be, “and it’s such a loving, generous way of looking at the world.”
Victor Shafor and Aviva Stanoff
Met: Nov. 18, 2002
Engaged: May 24, 2005
Projected Wedding Date: Sept. 30, 2006
When Victor Shafor was first introduced to Aviva Stanoff at the Dublin House, that dank Irish bar on the Upper West Side, his face briefly resembled a happy Muppet. “Her face totally lit up the room, and I couldn’t see anything else when she smiled,” said Mr. Shafor, 29, an M.B.A. candidate at N.Y.U. with dark, slicked-back hair à la Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.
“Hey, how would you like to be an army of two?” he asked her, segueing from a conversation about the military. She gave him a sexy wink. “I thought, ‘This guy is funny,’” said Ms. Stanoff, who is in her early 30’s and is a self-employed designer of textiles and home accessories.
The new pair walked out arm in arm as the party moved to another bar. Blocks ahead of the group, they decided to hide behind the corner and say “Boo!” as the others walked past. “I felt like I was small, and you were my next-door neighbor, and we had known each other forever,” remembered Ms. Stanoff.
“Ah, screw you,” was the response of one victim.
At 2 in the morning, Mr. Shafor and Ms. Stanoff looked up to discover that the room was empty, and so too were their stomachs. “Chinatown?” she asked.
“Absolutely!” Mr. Shafor replied. “I would have gone to Canada with you,” he added now.
Before they got in the cab downtown, he extracted her business card. “I was like, ‘This is awesome!’” he said. “I met this beautiful woman, and we’re going to start dating and get married and have kids. And it all starts with this card.”
Alas, he was so distracted by the happy notion of dumplings that he left the precious piece of paper between puddles of beer on the bar.
They had made tentative plans to meet at noon the next day at the northernmost tip of Manhattan and visit the Cloisters. But when Mr. Shafor awoke at 12:15, a wicked hangover quickly gave way to rising panic. “I sent everyone who was there that night an urgent missive to call everyone they knew to find this girl’s number,” he said.
Upon retrieving the digits, however, the pecuniary pursuer decided that he had to play it cool. He drank a cup of coffee and looked at his watch. An hour later, he broke down and called her (slick, boy, real slick). And the rest is his(-and her-)story. “I don’t think our first date has ever ended,” said Mr. Shafor with satisfaction.
After much moving around, the couple settled on a three-bedroom duplex near the South Street Seaport.
They were strolling languidly on a Costa Rican beach one vacation, watching local kids play soccer with a coconut and an old hippie fly a kite, when Mr. Shafor impulsively turned to Ms. Stanoff and asked her the crucial question.
“Yes, I’ll marry you,” she said, and then: “You have a lot of guts trying to pull something like this off without any hardware.” You said it, sister!
“Um, well, I thought you’d want to design something,” said her sweetie hastily (nice save … ).
Ms. Stanoff is half-Jewish and half-Japanese. “It will be the most polite wedding on the planet,” she told the Love Beat. Mr. Shafor agreed: “The combination of Jewish guilt and Japanese avoidance of shame!”
But the rest of their lives together? No holds barred. “It’s like we’ve been up all night, and now it’s 5 in the morning, and we’re getting married,” Mr. Shafor said. “And maybe tomorrow’s going to be a new day, but maybe we’ll just keep flying west.”